I got over to the show a little early, grabbed my camera, and started to look around. It was evident, pretty quickly, that digital signage had been adeptly herded into a couple of rows in the Digital Store area.
Beyond that, the show is companies selling fixtures and flooring and lighting and on and on.
There was also a bunch of mannequin guys, from really elegant gear to a guy who had a little booth but at least a couple of mannequins with Pam Anderson-sized girls. Kinda funny. Very bizarre.
A couple of observations:
– we’re all selling basically the same thing and just spinning it … I would not have wanted to be some green guy from marketing dispatched to the show to find a solution
– Wireless Ronin must have burned though a chunk of its IPO money with a lavish booth and a lot of bodies … MTI next door also had a LOT of bodies, but they also have what sounds like a lot of business in a variety of things
I still didn’t see much that was new or very interesting, however I did get around the corner and find out more about Redbox, which I mentioned from Day 1.
First, it’s a Canadian signage play that doesn’t come from the Toronto-Kitchener-W aterloo corridor. This one emanates, at least in part from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Essentially, Redbox is a little video squeezer box that can run graphics around a cable or other video feed, or take over a screen to run video. The little gadget isn’t much bigger than a deck of cards and has no moving parts. It bears some similarities to the Tivella box that Cisco picked up earlier this year.
Redbox claims it supports Flash files, but what it is really doing is transcoding Flash files to a video output. The playback looked a little soft and nasty on the screen at the booth, but that was explained as a problem with the panel.
The interesting thing is the proposition. $3 a day for the managed service, otherwise known as $90/month. There is a hardware fee, which I would imagine equates to the prise of the box, but then Redbox will install the thing. That part would scare the hell out of me, in terms of the real cost and hassles of installs, but it certainly simplifies things. The install would not take much and the footprint is tiny.
The hardware is engineered by some partners in Silicon Valley and it is a product in evolution.
The $3 a day thing is a nice way to put things, though it is certainly not as low as you can go. With economies of scale, there is at least one provider I know, REALLY well, that is doing this stuff for essentially $1/day.
Nice people. Hope it goes well for them. And hats off to them for going in a different direction. The industry does not need ANOTHER software solution.
I also saw the fabled battery-powered digital sign display — a 4 inch screen by Connecticut-based Data Display that fires up on request only and can run for as many as 60 total hours … on 24 D-cell batteries all lashed together.
Interesting, but I didn’t exactly walk away thinking: problem solved!
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.